North East slow fashion brand plans growth with £65k investment

A female-led North East ‘slow fashion’ brand has secured a five-figure investment from the North East Small Loan Fund Supported by The European Regional Development Fund.

NOVO’s womenswear collection provides core wardrobe essentials and elevated basics to modern women, with its focus on timeless, interchangeable, made-to-last garments that can be worn for all occasions reducing the need to overbuy and so limiting wearers’ impact on the environment.

The business has already recorded sales of more than £250k since its brand relaunch in autumn 2020 and is now aiming to increase that figure at least three-fold before the end of next year as it becomes established alongside the best-known names in the luxury fashion sector.

After working with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers to secure the £65k Small Loan Fund investment, NOVO is now growing its market share alongside leading industry connections, as well as focusing on further sustainable manufacturing practices within its core collection.

NOVO was founded by Amy Whitfield and Rebecca Ward, whose extensive industry experience spans more than a decade, with Leanna King joining the firm’s team of directors in 2019.

The brand already ships from its online store to more than 30 countries around the world, with the US being its second-biggest market. Pieces from its growing collection are also available in a number of high-end retail outlets in locations including London, Edinburgh, Dubai and New Zealand.

Selected pieces have already featured in publications including Vogue and Forbes, and have been seen on influencers, entrepreneurs and influential women of the moment.

Amy Whitfield says: “The last year has really seen the brand take off and we’re extremely ambitious to achieve a great deal more through the coming year and beyond.

“Each collection is designed around the modern woman and her lifestyle, and having a women-led creative team means we know personally what our customers are looking for and how best to cater to the demand.

“We’re also putting responsible and sustainable retail practices at the heart of what we do to help minimise our environmental impact through actions such as removing single-use plastic, using fully recyclable boxes and planning production volumes carefully to minimise waste.

Amy concluded: “The premium quality of the materials we use also ensures the longevity of wear of all of our pieces.”

It is designed to assist with the creation of over 1,200 new regional jobs in more than 320 SMEs over the life of the fund. The overarching £120m North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 3,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.

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